The consumer products supply chain has taken giant strides in adopting recycling programs for recyclable materials such as paper and plastic, but the topic of recycling material handling equipment used in the supply chain hasn't received much attention up to this juncture in our journey towards sustainability.
With this in mind, Patrick Penfield of Syracuse University has written an article encouraging material handling professionals to take a closure look at their distribution residuals, whether packaging, scrap wood and steel, or obsolete material handling equipment. In my experience, I typically have seen old pallet jacks sold cheaply to clear them out, or observed them in the scrap metal bin.
Penfield reminds us that the recycling hierarchy holds true as much for the recycling of old forklifts and pallet jacks as for other materials. If we can develop effective reverse logistics networks to recover and consolidate old equipment, better value can be derived through reuse, refurbishment or spare parts than by sending them straight to the scrap metal pile.
Recycling old equipment for best value is the right thing to do, and it will be great to see more material handling executives starting to give it serious consideration.